Mattel, the world’s largest toy company and the maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars, yesterday announced the biggest recall in its history. The company said it was recalling 436,000 Chinese-made die-cast toy cars depicting the character Sarge from the animated film Cars because they are covered with lead paint.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises consumers to immediately take the recalled toys away from children and contact Mattel. Consumers will need to return the product to receive a replacement toy.
At the same time, the toy maker said it was recalling 18.2 million other toys because their small, powerful magnets could injure children if swallowed. The magnetized toys were also made in China, but they followed a Mattel design specification. Barbie toys were among those recalled for strong magnets. About half of the toys in each recall were distributed in the United States.
Separately, laboratory tests have found that some Chinese-made vinyl baby bibs sold at Toys R Us stores appear to be contaminated with lead. Industry analysts said Mattel’s woes are part of a much larger problem. There have been well over 13 million toy recalls this summer. The lead-paint recall was Mattel’s second in less than a month of lead-tainted toys made in China.
Last month’s recall of Fisher-Price toys with lead paint included some based on characters from Sesame Street, such as Big Bird and Elmo, and Dora the Explorer. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children.
The magnetic toys involved in the new recall included 63 products that, though produced in China, were recalled because of a design flaw on Mattel’s part, not a problem with its Chinese contractors.
The recalls threaten to set the toy industry on its heels just as companies are beginning to ship toys to stores for the holiday shopping season, when half of all toy purchases are made.
The magnetic toys had been produced since 2002 and sold before January 2007. They include 44 different Polly Pocket toys, 11 Doggie Day Care toys, 4 Batman toys, a One Piece toy, 2 Barbie toys, Tanner play sets, and OnePiece Triple Slash Zolo Roronoa action figures.
Many toy makers have recalled magnetic toys since early 2006 as the Consumer Safety Commission, concerned that children could ingest the magnets, focused on magnets on toys as a rising safety hazard.
Several injuries had been reported in an earlier Polly Pocket recall last November. At least one U.S. child has died and 19 others have needed surgery since 2003 after swallowing magnets used in toys, including three children had been suffered intestinal perforations by swallowing more than one magnet, the government said. When more than one magnet is swallowed, they can attach to each other and cause intestinal perforation, infection or blockage, which can be fatal.
In June 2007, about 1.5 million Thomas & Friends wooden railway toys, imported from China and distributed by the RC2 Corp. were recalled because of lead paint. In March 2006, another toy company, Mega Brands Inc., recalled 3.8 million Magnetix magnetic building sets after one child died and four others were seriously injured after swallowing tiny magnets in them. There are already many lawsuits against companies involved in the pet food recall as well as the Thomas & Friends toy train recall.
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